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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Irish ranked 12th in way-too-early Top 25

By Matt Fortuna

Colleague Mark Schlabach has unveiled his way-too-early Top 25 for the 2013 season, and Notre Dame comes in at No. 12 following its 42-14 loss to Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship.
12. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Fighting Irish were probably a year ahead of schedule in reaching Monday night's Discover BCS National Championship. Even though they'll lose All-American linebacker Manti Te'o, much of the Irish's vaunted defense will return in 2013, including star nose guard Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. The Irish might get back as many as seven starters on offense, and quarterback Everett Golson figures to be a better passer in his second season as a starter, although tailback Theo Riddick will be missed. Notre Dame's schedule in 2013 again looks daunting, with road games at Michigan and Stanford and home contests against Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC, plus a matchup against Arizona State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Irish might not go undefeated in the regular season again in 2013, but they might be back in the BCS championship hunt.

Those tired of Alabama and the SEC's reign of seven straight national titles may want to stop reading, as the Tide are No. 1 on the list, looking to go for a three-peat in 2013. Five SEC teams are in the top 10.

Irish rival Stanford comes in at No. 3.